Bruce Lucier Bettered Disabled Kids’ Lives Through Sports

April 24, 2018 GMT

In 1972, Bruce Lucier was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed.

The tragedy changed his life. He would never walk again. But the accident did not define him.

The Lowell resident, who died April 17 at the age of 66, was best known as the founder of Kids in Disability Sports, Inc., an organization that betters the life of disabled area residents through athletics.

He tirelessly advocated for the Lowell-based organization he created in 1995. At first, just a couple of local disabled athletes joined. However, through the force of his great will, K.I.D.S. grew to serve hundreds of disabled athletes. When Lucier put his mind to something, it got done.

I met Bruce when I was assigned to do a story about K.I.D.S for The Sun. We talked at great length and I was impressed by the level of his passion for his organization. The interview ended.

A friendship began.

“You’re the best,” he told me. (I admit I felt proud. It wasn’t until later I realized Bruce uttered his trademark phrase to everybody.)

At his urging, I became a member of the board of directors of K.I.D.S., and served in that capacity for a half-dozen years. It was hard to say no to Bruce. Just ask former world boxing champion Micky Ward, who became a fierce advocate of the organization. Ward helped the organization gain notoriety across the Merrimack Valley.

I ran the 2005 and 2007 Boston Marathons on behalf of K.I.D.S. and proudly was able to raise thousands for the organization. Bruce was so grateful. He wanted the absolute best for his extended family, the athletes and families who were dealt a tough hand.

He wanted the best uniforms. He wanted the best gym spaces. He wanted awards banquets that were first-class affairs. He planned dances where the smiles of his athletes lit up the room.

At events, his eyes sparkled with joy when he watched K.I.D.S. athletes compete.

Sadly, Bruce’s dream of building a state-of-the-art facility in the area for K.I.D.S. -- there was talk of a site in Tewksbury at one point -- never materialized. Too much money. Too many obstacles to overcome.

That would not become his legacy.

That’s OK. A building is a stationary object. The Bruce Lucier I remember was more interested in helping people achieve happiness through basketball, swimming, baseball and golf.

Lucier played two seasons of varsity basketball at Lowell High. Both were under coach Mike Crowley. The 1967-68 team went 14-6 during his junior season. He wasn’t much of a scorer, but Lucier was named a senior co-captain of the 1968-69 squad along with Joe Brooks.

Lucier didn’t talk much about his athletic career, but he was a sports fanatic who rarely missed any game involving the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins.

After his car accident, it would have been easy for Bruce to wallow in self pity. Instead, he became a motivational speaker for A.L. Williams/Prime America for many years.

Lucier was told by doctors it was unlikely he would live past 50. Ah, not quite. The doctors didn’t take into consideration the size of his heart and his burning desire to help other people despite his disability.

Still, life was seldom easy for Bruce following the car accident. He was constantly in and out of hospitals in the last 10 years of his life.

K.I.D.S. is still thriving today even though Bruce stepped away from the organization about a decade ago.

I take comfort in the fact that Bruce is no longer in pain, no longer headed to another hospital, no longer headed to another surgery.

He’s no longer in discomfort. His obituary listed he is survived by five siblings, as well as several nieces and nephews. One his nephews, Mike “Big Country” Sawyer, idolized his uncle.

But the obit was incomplete -- it failed to mention his extended family, the hundreds of athletes and families whose lives he bettered through K.I.D.S.

Follow Barry Scanlon on Twitter@BarryScanlonSun